Consumer Reports cautions parents about disinfectant wipes

Health

Tubes of disinfectant wipes are popular in classrooms and around the house, but parents should be aware of the chemicals involved before using the wipes around kids, Consumer Reports says.

WASHINGTON — Consumer Reports, the well-known product research and quality testing organization, is advising parents to use caution when cleaning with disinfectant wipes around their kids.

Tubes of the wipes, made my companies such as Clorox, are popular in schools, offices and around the house for convenient cleaning, especially during cold and flu season. In a recent review, Consumer Reports found that the wipes are effective for these day-to-day needs, but also noted that parents might be surprised to know they contain chemicals registered by the Environmental Protection Agency as pesticides.

“Used properly, these products are helpful in killing germs, and are even employed for infection control in certain healthcare settings. But it’s important to handle them appropriately,” the non-profit wrote.

Ingredients found in some wipes include bleach, hydrogen peroxide and quaternary ammonium compounds — or “quats” for short — according to the agency. These chemicals can exacerbate kids’ asthma and potentially irritate their eyes, skin and respiratory systems, studies found.

Kids playing, eating or doing homework on surfaces that have recently been cleaned by the wipes may be more likely to feel effects from the wipes than adults, too, experts said.

“Kids breathe more air per pound of body weight than an adult does,” Jerome Paulson, M.D., a pediatrician and emeritus professor at George Washington University, told Consumer Reports. “Their exposure will be greater in terms of inhalation than an adult exposure would be.”

Consumer Reports recommended taking basic precautions when using the wipes to keep kids safe. “Make sure young children are out of the room when you’re using disinfectants, and for a little while afterward,” the review reads. “This will keep small hands from touching drying disinfecting fluid, and potentially getting it in their mouths.”

Read the full report here.

If parents are concerned about the products they use around the house and want to research products that meet the “Safer Choice Standard” set by the EPA, they can view the agency’s website.

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